We cover a lot of ground as the dynamic duo analyze the Superstar Shake-Up, the growing Mauro Ranallo/JBL situation and more. Chris recaps his experience at the WWE shareholder meeting and reads the news as Dusty Rhodes. Spaceman Frank cuts a promo on United Airlines.
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Matt “Rosey” Anoa’i.
A big Four Pay-Per-View is here, which means that WWE is rolling out the NXT brand the night before for a (probably) superior show of their own. What’s most likely is that the last major show for the developmental brand of the year promises to be an exciting event, and considering the event will be around one-third of the time Survivor Series promises to be that is very welcome. With an emphasis on tag team action reflecting the overall Survivor Series theme, Toronto has massive potential to show why WWE deserves to invest in more serious tag teams instead of the multitude of joke tag teams that populate the main roster. While it’s unusual for no new talents to be making their debut during a live special, Toronto features several grapplers having the highest-stake matches of their careers, plus the return of a legendary women’s wrestler. I’m Spaceman Frank, and here are my NXT TakeOver: Toronto predictions.
The Authors of Pain vs. TM-61 (Finals of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic)
It’s smart of the WWE to only have the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic on the Toronto show rather than the semis and finals in one night. It’s also smart of NXT to have two up and coming teams clashing for the trophy rather than having a superteam win it like last year. While I would (and honestly) rather see Team DIY and The Revival clash for the NXT Tag Team Championships and the trophy, I’ll take this alternative instead. What I don’t like is Paul Ellering being suspended from a cage above the ring. If we had seen the dastardly manager interfere in more matches it would make sense, but since the Authors have been pretty dominate it doesn’t seem necessary. It’s tempting to say that the Authors of Pain will win…so I will. TM-61 is a fine team, but to me they are discount Team DIY until they fully establish themselves.
The Revival (c) vs. Team DIY (Two Out of Three Falls Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships)
Having this be a two out of three falls match is perfect. This was already shaping up to be the match of the night, and guaranteeing there will be high drama throughout the match. These four can steal not only this NXT special, but the whole wrestling weekend as well. I think The Revival will win, so they can bide their time until AJ Styles brings them in to be his henchmen in the SmackDown chapter of The Club (please let it happen WWE). There is a lot of fertile ground for Johnny Wrestling and the Sicilian Psychopath to begin feuding, and the smart money says that losing their chance at the belts for a second time will lead to the split. I could also see them splitting up while trying to take the Cruiserweight Championship on the main roster, considering how many times we’ve been teased with their divorce. Either way, the stakes in this match are high, and I’m ready for The Revival to pull out some shenanigans and Team DIY to lay some some serious hits that echo so loudly I hear it from Buffalo.
Bobby Roode vs. Tye Dillinger
The only singles match on the card not for a title involves Dillinger finally getting a match on a live special he is not guaranteed to lose, and it’s about time considering how long the dude has been working away at NXT and has been overdue for some sort of push. The crowd is solidly behind the guy, as they have wanted The Perfect 10 to get the spot he finally deserves. On the other hand, he’s going up against the immensely popular Bobby Roode, whose theme song admittedly is more over than he is. NXT is in need of some main event heels besides Samoa Joe, and Roode fits the bill to a “t.”
In order to do this, I predict he will bully and batter Dillinger to get the win, earning him some heat so people begin to turn on him. Roode wins to set himself up as the next challenger for the NXT Championship and Dillinger solidifies himself as a midcard face with a strong outing.
Asuka (c) vs. Mickie James (NXT Women’s Championship Match)
Asuka is facing her stiffest competition yet…or at least that’s what WWE wants you to believe. Mickie James is a legend and probably a future Hall of Fame candidate, but rumor has it that the only reason she’s here is because Trish Stratus was not available. I also have concerns over how their styles will mesh, but considering the biggest thing I know about James is that she sexually assaulted Stratus at ‘Mania 20 I’m probably not a good reference point. Asuka seems destined to hold on to the belt until Ember Moon (or someone else) steps up, so she’ll win this match and will have to wait awhile until someone becomes the clear-cut choice to take her title away. Either that or NXT books her in a multi-women match so she can lose the belt without being pinned.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship Match)
While I predict the Tag Team Championship match will be the highlight of the show, these two are engaging every time they face off. While their first encounter was built around the dream match potential, now there are personal stakes involved as Nakamura and Joe have taken turns beating the bejesus out of each other. I predict these two will lay down some serious lumber, and if Brock vs. Goldberg II matches 50% of their intensity I’ll be shocked.
I know NXT is reluctant to throw around gimmick matches, but if any two needed a Street Fight stipulation this is the pair. Joe has nothing left to prove in NXT, and is an early candidate for a 2017 Rumble entrant. Therefore, Nakamura is walking away with the title. Maybe he’ll have one final encounter with Joe, or maybe Roode will sneak into the main event scene, or maybe No Way Jose turns heel and uses an actual baseball bat on the champ. We shall see.
Chris and Frank continue to push the envelope as they sound off on this year’s WWE Money In The Bank Pay-Per-View. Our hosts discuss what they enjoyed, question a few angles, and pay tribute to the late, great Dusty Rhodes in this whimsical podcast.
Virgil Runnels, better known to the wrestling world as the legendary Dusty Rhodes died Thursday morning. He was 69 years old. The cause of death is unknown at this time.
Runnels, who famously referred to himself as “the son of a plumber who grew up to be so sweet” was one of the best talkers in the business. At eight years old, the Texas native was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, a bone disease that he would live with for the rest of his life. While Runnels was thought to be unable to walk, he proved everyone wrong and then some. Regardless, Runnels would work with his father every day while the two would bond over local wrestling matches and baseball games. While wrestling was his first love, Runnels’ sport of choice was football as he would play for high school and college at West Texas University with fellow future wrestling stars Ted DiBiase,Terry Funk and Dick Murdoch, whom he would later tag with. Runnels almost became an NFL player, but instead chose “the business” after realizing where his heart truly was.
Starting his career in 1968 as a rule-breaking heel (a professional wrestling term for “bad guy”) in the territorial days of the NWA and AWA promotions; Rhodes would team up with college buddy Murdoch to form “The Texas Outlaws.” Together, the two would go on to hold the NWA Tag Team Championships multiple times in different territories before Rhodes would turn babyface (good guy) and gain the adoration of the pro-wrestling world for the rest of his days, feuding with the likes of Abdulla the Butcher, Harley Race and “Superstar” Billy Graham.
The original “every man” of sports entertainment would go on a rocket ride to superstardom when he moved on to Jim Crockett Promotions (where he would book outlandish run-in endings to matches, which became known in the industry as the “Dusty Finish”) and WCW, feuding with (arguably the best heel to ever step foot in the ring) “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and his legendary stable “The Four Horseman,”leading to the creation of the infamous “War Games” match. The two would put on classic bouts regarded by many as some of the best matches of all time over pride and coveted WCW championships. Rhodes’ knowledge of wrestling psychology and charisma captivated the United States with his over-the-top promos, earning him the nickname “The American Dream.” It was during this time that Rhodes would become immortal with his legendary “Hard Times” promo (below in all its glory).
Rhodes was eventually fired from WCW due to booking a then hyper-violent storyline with the Road Warriors and bloodletting, (known as “blading” in the wrestling world) which was against WCW’s rules under ownership of Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS). While Rhodes was out of work, it was only a matter of time before Vince McMahon’s WWE (then known as WWF) would come calling.
After a series of ridiculously funny vignettes where he would perform everyday manual labor jobs, “The American Dream” made his WWE debut in what would become his trademark polka-dot attire with a “common man” gimmick (which was essentially the kind of guy he was at heart). While many felt the new clothes and gimmick was a step backward for Runnels, the man would take it in stride and remained hugely over with the fans. He would eventually gain a valet in the form of “Sapphire” (real name Juanita Wright), the common woman to Rhodes’ common man. The two would feud with DiBiase’s evil “Million Dollar Man” character, Randy Savage (under the “Macho King” gimmick) and “Sensational” Queen Sherri. Rhodes would also partner with real-life son Dustin Runnels for a short while as he continued to feud with DiBiase and Virgil until the two would leave WWE in 1991 (shortly after Dustin’s debut), returning to WCW where he would eventually become one of the head bookers for the company.
The pair would work together until 1996 when the two had a falling out that caused Dustin to leave WCW, returning to WWE under the name “Golddust” (an androginous character that he would portray to this day). It would be five years before the two would speak again.
During the late 90’s and early 2000’s WCW was in a constant state of chaos both on camera and backstage due to the N.W.O. (New World Order) angle becoming too ridiculous due to backstage politicking and overwhelming confusion. Eventually WCW would lose the “Monday Night War” with WWE and would be bought out by McMahon. Rhodes would not sign with WWE until 2005 after a brief stint in TNA and working the independent circut.
In September 2015 Rhodes would sign a legends contract with WWE and be brought onto the creative team, where he would help come up with storylines and mentor many a talent on the WWE roster. WWE would go on to release “The American Dream” DVD set, containing a full-length documentary, a collection of classic matches and a plethora of Rhode’s immaculate promos. On March 31, 2007, Rhodes would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his two sons Dustin and Cody (who now wrestles for WWE under the name “Stardust”). Rhodes would do the favors (lose to make a young talent look good) for then up-and-coming star Randy Orton in a “Texas Bullrope” match during Orton’s “Legend Killer” gimmick. The match was Rhode’s last televised match to date.
Rhodes would live out his days backstage with WWE as a mentor, creative force, and occasional plot device. He is survived by his wife and four children (including Dustin and Cody).
While the legendary son of a plumber has gone on to wine and dine with kings and queens in the afterlife, the wrestling world mourns the loss of one of its greatest talents. Despite Rhode’s non-athletic build, his abilities were unsurpassed and got him over with the world for ages. There are many different chants wrestling fans have used over the years, but only one can summarize the loss of “The American Dream.”